Catching Cats at Manor Fishery

I’ve not done much Catfish fishing over the past few years and my PB was only 15Ib 8oz so after an offer from Mike Morrison of Manor Fisheries to fish on the Catfish Lake I couldn’t refuse.

Heading down to the lake I must say I was very excited like a kid at Christmas, the fact is this lake holds catfish to over 50Ib and the thought of a big moggy just got the adrenaline pumping. I was surprised to find that there was nobody fishing any of the lakes which allowed me time to get accustom to my surroundings and a free chose of any swim I fancied. After about 30 minutes, no tell a lie 5 minutes because of excitement I settled on a swim facing the island.

I used my tried and tested coarse fishing tackle with a set of Delta XS rods in a 3lb test curve. The TF Gear V8 reels with a 15Ib mainline, this should be up to the job and little did I know they would be tested, a dumbell rig with lobworms as bait on the surface was my first choice of rigs along with a running ledger with Cotswold Bait Creations 22mm Crab pellets being the second. Both rigs had an eagle eye hook size 2 tied with 70Ib braid.

I strategically placed the pellet rod in the middle, between the island and the margin, hopefully to intercept any fish coming from depth. The surface worm rod was placed under a tree next to the island to target fish coming around the island following the flow. I sat down for a cup of tea and by the time the water had boiled the worm rod was away, left right forwards backwards it was a crazy fight but it wasn’t long before it came in. On the scale it read new PB, 15Ib 8oz so before I had even started my PB was broken.

Personal Best 1

My confidence was high but the night only produced a few aborted takes so come dawn disappointment had set in, that was until the alarm screamed in to life, a battle of the giants had commenced. With every yard of line gained the fish would take five and it was ten minutes in to the fight that my arm started to ache but I knew it was a big fish so I couldn’t let up the slightest. The head came to the surface and I wasn’t sure on the size, that was until I lifted the net only to see that the fish was half in half out, it did go in eventually and looking down at the fish I had to sit down and compose myself before dealing with it. On the unhooking mat the size was amazing I’d never seen a fish so big, (only on tv) but there it was and I was the one who had caught it, the scales read 38Ib 4oz so it was a new PB for the second time, Fantastic.

Personal best 2

The day was extremely hot at around 27 degrees C and you would have thought the Catfish would have fed but I didn’t get a bite all day until dusk which to be honest I wasn’t really bothered about as I was still buzzing about my new PB. I wasn’t expecting much on the last night but I didn’t get any sleep as run after run came my way with a multitude of double figure Catfish hitting the bank. The last one was slipped back at dawn and I really needed some sleep but didn’t want to reel the rods in so I left them out just in case. On my bedchair and in the sleeping bag I was nice and snug and ready for some shut eye when the alarm sounded… bleep… bleep… Blurry eyed I stumbled to the rod and bent in to the fish only the be greeted by heavy resistance and a fish trying to go around the island. I must say the Delta XS rods really surpassed all my expectations and handled this and all the other Cats with ease but this Cat wasn’t giving up and half an hour into the fight it was still going strong but with time and patience it was in the net, just. Now I thought that the 38 was big but this was bigger and my scales bottomed out at 40Ib’s so with nerves shacking I borrowed some scales from another angler and they read 42Ib 8oz. I couldn’t believe it I had broken my Catfish PB for the third time in one session.

Personal best 3

A real red letter day and it really has given me the bug for Catfishing so I’ll be trying to go a lot more but I have a long way to go to beat my new PB.

Till the next time tight lines and best fishes…


Since my last feature, I’ve been back for one last session at Horseshoe Lake, reverting to one of my favourite swims, Choppy’s on Winter Bay. Once again, though, my timing was poor. Why is it that I’m always told that, “you should have been here last week etc?” I know I couldn’t have fished any more effectively, having carefully located a nice clear gravel bed in the middle of silkweed and baited it accurately. Although I did catch a couple of tench, they again were only average fish up to just over 6lbs. My searches for a really big tench have been constantly thwarted this season.

I’ve also been back to my local carp fishing water for a day session, taking seven more lovely carp, all good doubles and had several exploratory sessions on the upper Warks Avon, which is close to my home. The signal crayfish situation on my beloved Great Ouse has now reached plague proportions and I have to say that the fishing is no longer enjoyable at times. Summer fishing is now a real trial, the damn crays are on the baits in minutes. Even the usual tricks of encasing in mesh or trying to lure the crays away with tins of cat food or tethered fish are not working very well. There are simply too many crays. What the river needs is an injection of a few catfish in each affected section. They will soon thin down the crayfish population!

On the Avon though, I can still find peaceful fishing. I’ve been on the extreme upper reaches, which have no real form for anything other than average chub and barbel, but I do feel that there may be a big fish or two to be discovered. Apart from one very accessible section, the river receives little pressure and I’m very hopeful of uncovering something exciting. So far, barbel to only 8-12 and chub to 4-10 have rewarded my efforts, but I do know of genuine 11 and 6 pounders respectively. so, the search continues, which is great fun in itself.

Early August saw me back on the Ebro system in central Spain, fishing the river’s tributary the Segre at Mequinenza with Catmasters Tours. The fishing was as much fun as ever, although a little slower than previous trips. Apparently, a combination of an extreme heat wave and late spawning had resulted in many of the bigger fish not being in the usual areas. Fran and I were joined by two father and son combinations, Paul and Patrick Reed and Paul and Zach Sparrow. Patrick, who is 21, had never before landed a catfish and on the first night landed one of the biggest cats ever caught by a Catmasters customer, in fact one of the biggest cats ever caught anywhere, at 224lb. For good measure, Zach, 15, also had his first ever cats, his biggest being 182lb! Both lads were teased about their golden appendages for the rest of the week!

Compared to those two monsters, my catches this year were quite modest. My best was 126lb, well short of my personal best of 186lb caught last November. I also fluked a 28lb common on a catfish rod, as well as dropping a carp in the margins that looked every ounce of 40lb plus. That was the only 100lb plus fish I had this year, although I did manage two very hard fighting fish of 83lb and 84lb.

If you get the chance you must give it a go. You do not need to be an experienced big fish angler, as the guides do all the important work of selecting the swim, rowing out the baits, baiting up and so on. They also are on hand to advise on playing these immensely powerful fish and landing them for you. As Pat and Zach proved this year, anyone can catch a monster, even the most inexperienced. So you cannot take it too seriously as it is certainly no measure of angling skill. What it is though is bloody good fun and I can thoroughly recommend it.


Manor Fisheries

The Three Lakes – Manor Fisheries

The lakes are beautifully landscaped, safe and well thought out, incorporating bays, controlled weed beds, rushes and islands. The swims are large, safe and comfortable for night fishing.

There are two well stocked specimen lakes containing many superb specimen carp, over 30lbs+, the larger of the two specimen lakes – Lake 2, also contains an abundance of catfish, some over 50lbs together with specimen carp. Both of these lakes have well kept natural grassy banks with lovely views of the surrounding countryside, a truly magical place to spend the day fishing.

Facilities on offer at Manor Fisheries
Disabled access: Yes
Tackle Hire: No
Toliets: Yes
Refreshments: No
Day passes: Yes
Phone: 07770756934